European shipping reaches ‘breaking point’

European shipowners have urgently called on governments and Brussels to adopt a targeted rescue and recovery plan for the maritime sector, which is now inching close to collapse from the strains brought about by the coronavirus.

The board of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) met yesterday and issued a strong statement on the perilous state of the continent’s shipping community.

“European shipping has reached a breaking point,” said Claes Berglund, ECSA’s president. “On the surface, trade continues to flow. Below the surface, our crews are being challenged enormously.”

ECSA said in a release it considers that the unprecedented crisis brought about by the coronavirus lockdown requires unprecedented reaction. The shipowning body called on all the European institutions to swiftly adopt a “targeted rescue and recovery plan” for the maritime sector.

Berglund, a director at Stena, added that financing must be kept open for shipping companies in order for them to cope with immediate liquidity problems to avoid redundancies, to help refinance their loans, or have the possibility to suspend their loan installments and interest, and in parallel extend the term of their loans.

“Without the authorities and banks stepping in on this, many companies will not survive the crisis and Europe’s share of global shipping is going to plunge,” Berglund warned.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I think the world should critically look into shipping because of it’s capacity to provide job creation, ease or cheap ways of carrying goods around the world and varying internally generated revenues. If not private ship owners and major companies would be badly hit thereby worsening the economic effect and aftermath of the CIVID 19 issues. Trust me we don’t want to experience that.

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